While our nation has made significant strides in addressing domestic violence by responding to the stories and leadership of brave survivors, and through advocacy and legislative action, domestic violence in America remains all too common. During National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, we continue to shed light on the causes of this scourge, empower federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local officials, and call on all communities to increase prevention efforts. My administration is working to ensure that all survivors have access to justice and the support they need to heal and prosper.
When I introduced the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in the Senate in 1990, with the support of many members of Congress and community attorneys, we began to bring these abuse cases out of the shadows. For too long, few in this country have been willing to call domestic violence a national epidemic. VAWA improved survivors’ access to services and support, empowered federal law enforcement agencies to hold perpetrators accountable, and improved enforcement of protective orders across state lines. In March of this year, I was proud to enact the VAWA Reauthorization Act of 2022, which extends all current VAWA grant programs through 2027 and increases services and support for all survivors, including by strengthening access to services for the underserved or marginalized surviving communities. It also enhances evidence-based, trauma-based training for law enforcement officers involved in assisting victims and investigating these crimes.
While we know that VAWA is making a significant difference, we also know that there is still a lot of work ahead of us. Millions of women and men are affected by some form of intimate partner abuse every year. Domestic violence can lead to injury, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, home insecurity, missed school or work, and other devastating consequences. Historically underserved populations, including LGBTQI+ survivors, people with disabilities, immigrants, racial and ethnic minorities, and American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Hawaiian Natives, face some of the highest rates of domestic and sexual violence, along with additional barriers to safety and support. The impact of this epidemic is reaching far beyond the home, affecting extended families, schools and the workplace.
For the past three decades, I have continued this commitment to preventing and combating domestic violence and all forms of gender-based violence. To increase our support for victims during the pandemic, as we saw domestic violence surge as survivors became increasingly isolated, faced economic insecurity and barriers to accessing assistance, my government increased funding for shelters and support providers and bid targeted resources for culturally specific, community-based organizations that address the needs of survivors in marginalized communities. Overall, we have invested nearly $1 billion in additional funds from our American Rescue Plan to strengthen these programs.
I also created the White House Gender Policy Council and called for the development of the first-ever government-wide National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, as well as updating the 2016 United States Strategy for Preventing and Responding to Gender-Based Violence Worldwide. These strategies will provide a roadmap to guide my entire government’s efforts to end domestic violence, sexual assault and other forms of gender-based violence.
My efforts didn’t stop there. Last year I signed the National Defense Authorization Act to fundamentally change the way the military investigates and prosecutes domestic violence, sexual assault and related crimes. I also issued an executive order to implement important reforms to the military code. We owe it to those who bravely wear our nation’s uniform to improve support for survivors and expand prevention of all forms of gender-based violence.
In July, I signed the Safer Communities Act, giving states significant resources to implement extreme risk protection laws and also to expand measures to prevent offenders convicted of assaulting their current or former dating partners were, buy or own weapons. Millions of women across America report having been threatened with a gun by an intimate partner, and there is evidence that the risk of death from domestic violence is five times higher when a gun is present. Additionally, as cyberstalking, sextortion and other forms of intimate partner violence using technology become more prevalent, we have established a new White House task force to address online harassment and abuse and expanded our efforts to prevent and address this harm.
As we continue the essential work to end domestic violence, we can all help build a culture where abuse is not tolerated and where survivors are heard, supported and protected. We can express our gratitude to the remarkable people and organizations that provide care and essential services to survivors of domestic violence, and we must remain committed to building a better world, where all people feel safe, respected, and free from abuse can live.
THEREFORE, I, JOSEPH R. BIDEN JR., President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the United States Constitution and laws, hereby proclaim October 2022 as National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to speak out against domestic violence and support efforts to educate all people about healthy relationships that focus on respect; Supporting victims and survivors in their own families and networks; and to support the efforts of victim advocates, service providers, health care providers and the legal system, and survivor leadership in the work to end domestic violence.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF I have laid my hand upon this thirtieth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand and twenty-two and of the independence of the United States of America on the two hundred and forty-seventh.
JOSEPH R BIDEN JR